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A brief history of biker gangs at war – Islamofascist Iraq edition

15 October 2014

8:21 AM

15 October 2014

8:21 AM

America and Britain are still fumbling for policies to deal with nationals joining the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. In Holland, meanwhile, authorities faced a more cheering task: sorting out Dutch motorbikers who’ve joined the Kurdish Peshmerga against Isis.

To accomodate freelance counter-jihadists, the ever-progressive Dutch have amended their rules against joining foreign armies, Agence France-Presse reports. The three Dutch Peshmerga we know of so far belong to a biker club called ‘No Surrender’,  whose chief concerns were heretofore limited to motorcycling and brawling with Hell’s Angels.

Speaking of Hell’s Angels, Dutch hog-heads aren’t the first to take interest in a foreign freedom-fight. In his classic 1966 profile, Hunter S Thompson described the American bikers’ early tiffs with pro-Communist, anti-Vietnam War demonstrators:

‘The [Hell’s] Angels were quickly subdued by Berkeley police, but not before they managed to punch a few people, tear up some signs and rip microphone wires off the march leaders’ sound truck.’


A-list beatniks tried to bring Angels leader Ralph Barger Jr. around to a more fashionable worldview. Per Thompson:

‘[Allen] Ginsberg, [Ken] Kesey, Neal Cassidy, some of Kesey’s Pranksters and a group of Angels met at Barger’s house in Oakland. A lot of LSD was taken, foolish political discussion was resolved by phonograph voices of Joan Baez and Bob Dylan, all concluding with the whole group chanting the text of the Prajnaparamita Sutra.’

Barger, an Army veteran, remained unconvinced. At the next anti-war rally, though he refrained from beating up hippies, Barger read aloud a telegram he’d sent to Lyndon B Johnson. Reproduced in Thompson’s book:

Dear Mr President:
On behalf of myself and my associates I volunteer a group of loyal Americans for behind-the-line duty in Viet Nam. We feel that a crack group of trained gorrillas [sic] would demoralize the Viet Cong and advance the cause of freedom. We are available for training and duty immediately.
Sincerely,
Ralph Barger Jr
Oakland, California
President of Hell’s Angels

Johnson didn’t reply and the Vietnam War never saw a Hell’s Angels brigade. Today’s subtler approach by the Dutch bikers is probably more expedient. Nota bene, for other Westerners seeking counter-jihad action: better to ask forgiveness than permission.

They won’t be alone. Some 200 Swedish Kurds set out for the Levant last month, according to news agency Rudaw. For all the Western youths taking up with Isis baddies, more than a few are also joining the good guys.


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